Researchers from Goldsmiths, University of London have launched a new multimedia digital tool for journalists, researchers, human rights monitors, and citizens in a digital age to map complex events – such as conflicts, protests, or crises – as they develop.
By collecting data in different media formats, and acting as an advanced data visualisation platform, PATTRN enables users to share and collate first-hand reports of events on the ground and to make sense of diffused fragments of information.
PATTRN’s pilot project was the Gaza Platform, an investigative online tool mapping Israeli attacks in Gaza during the conflict of July and August 2014.
Developed by researchers in Forensic Architecture (based within the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths) working with Amnesty International, the Gaza Platform pieced together more than 2,500 individual attacks, revealing patterns: an invaluable resource for human rights investigators pushing for accountability for violations committed during the conflict.
Project lead Francesco Sebregondi explains: “The principle of PATTRN is simple: everything that happens does so at a given place and time. The tool enables users to build a database of events with space and time coordinates, and to add tags, media, and content to these events. Anyone can contribute data, anonymously.
“In this digital age we believe PATTRN will be a vital tool for anyone undertaking human rights work.”
The database can then be explored through an online visualisation platform: while a map provides access to the details of each event, interactive charts and filters enable the user to reveal patterns across the data. Together, users of PATTRN can create the big picture of an ongoing situation.
PATTRN is currently in use by organisations such as citizen investigative journalists Bellingcat, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, transparency project Airwars, and the Tactical Tech Collective. Eliot Higgins, Belingcat founder, has described it as “the best conflict mapping tool I’ve seen so far”.
The PATTRN project was initiated thanks to a grant from the European Research Council, awarded to Goldsmiths’ Professor Eyal Weizman.
PATTRN responds to new ways of reporting from the front in the digital age, and will continue to develop. A prototype is now freely available in open source, hosted by Goldsmiths, University of London, for anyone to access.
Researchers, developers, journalists, or citizens alike – get involved at pattrn.co